Russia Drawing up 'Blacklists' of Americans to Retaliate Against Joe Biden Sanctions

Russia is drawing up "blacklists" of Americans in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Russian officials this week by President Joe Biden's administration. The sanctions were a response to the attempted murder of pro-democracy and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny in August, and his arrest upon voluntary return from Germany to Russia in January.

The Treasury Department announced new measures against seven Russian intelligence, law enforcement and defense officials on Tuesday. The U.S. also announced export controls on several business entities involved in the production of biological agents.

Navalny was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent while campaigning in Siberia in August, a chemical agent previously used by Russian agents to attack dissidents abroad.

The new sanctions are an expansion of those introduced in 2018 after former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with Novichok in the U.K. by Russian agents.

Among those targeted were Federal Security Service Director Aleksandr Bortnikov, Deputy Minister of Defense Aleksey Krivoruchko, and Deputy Minister of Defense Pavel Popov. The operation is believed to have been directed by the FSB.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied any use of chemical agents or assassination attempts against its critics at home or abroad. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Friday that Moscow would respond to the latest measures from the Biden administration.

"Given how they are acting, including the fact that they published all lists at once, I think that we will cheer them up soon," Zakharova told Russia's Channel One, according to the state-run Tass news agency. "Work is underway. Don't think that nothing is being done if we aren't talking about it."

"In fact, we never made these measures public in the past.," Zakharova said. "We would draw up blacklists in response to their blacklists and either inform them or answer their questions. They realize that their officials will be blacklisted."

Announcing the new sanctions on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said: "The Kremlin's use of chemical weapons to silence a political opponent and intimidate others demonstrates its flagrant disregard for international norms."

The European Union also approved new sanctions against several of the same Russian officials. Bloomberg reported Thursday that the U.S. and U.K. are considering applying more sanctions, perhaps targeting specific oligarchs or Russia's sovereign debt.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the Kremlin has a plan to respond to any further actions.

"Of course, Russia understands this, takes this into account, and works out various scenarios in order to ensure and protect interests of our country, our citizens and our business in the best way possible," Peskov said.

Moscow and Kremlin pictured in February
This file photo shows an aerial view of Christ the Saviour Cathedral and Nikolskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin on February 28, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images